A High­land sea loch that may be out of bounds to yachts

The Oban Times - - Community News -

A RIGHT good froth is gath­er­ing in our sea lochs thanks to Marine Scot­land which wants to make a huge chunk of sea from the Sound of Jura to Loch Su­nart a marine pro­tected area.

Ac­cord­ing to chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Scot­tish Fish­er­men’s Fed­er­a­tion, Ber­tie Armstrong, this will have a dev­as­tat­ing im­pact on many small and frag­ile coastal com­mu­ni­ties on the west coast by de­stroy­ing the fish­ing in­dus­try.

Mr Armstrong, who is con­cerned for the liveli­hood of the scal­lop dredgers, is not op­posed to the con­cept of marine pro­tec­tion ar­eas (MPAs) but has de­scribed some of the con­ser­va­tion ar­gu­ments in favour of the or­der as ‘pop­ulist and light­weight’.

Of course, we don’t want dis­in­ter­ested trawler­men, who risk life and limb and work hard to pro­vide us with fish at all times of the year, dam­ag­ing scal­lop beds and marine ar­chae­ol­ogy, so there has to be a com­pro­mise.

An am­i­ca­ble ar­range­ment has been reached in Loch Cr­eran where Marine Scot­land, con­cerned that anchors and ground chains might dis­turb a rare or­gan-pipe worm called ‘Ser­pula ver­mic­u­laris’ (com­monly known as Seru­plids), have worked closely with lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and loch users to keep the reefs safe by es­tab­lish­ing no-go ar­eas.

Ac­cord­ing to Marine Scot­land’s own con­fus­ing pa­per­work, no such agree­ment has been put in place yet for Loch Teacuis, a short sea loch in Morvern which also con­tains Ser­pulid reefs.

Cur­rently, Marine Scot­land wants a com­plete ban on anchors which will ef­fec­tively stop all ves­sels com­ing into the loch.

Given that man has been us­ing Loch Teacuis since the time of dugout ca­noes thou­sands of years ago, the pro­posal is both dra­co­nian and com­pletely in­con­sis­tent with mea­sures pro­posed else­where. More­over it would set a dan­ger­ous prece­dent, pos­si­bly lead­ing to the clo­sure of other sea lochs as these reefs ex­pand.

There is no rea­son why an ar­range­ment sim­i­lar to that in Loch Cr­eran can­not be es­tab­lished in Loch Teacuis through the hy­dro­graphic of­fice, the RYA and the marine press if, in­deed, the real ob­jec­tive is to pre­serve the nat­u­ral history of the loch bot­tom and not the cre­ation of a pri­vate la­goon.

Not enough in­ter­est is be­ing taken by lo­cal, work­ing folk in the for­ma­tion of these MPAs. Once es­tab­lished, the ef­fects will be far reach­ing and ir­re­versible. The agency deal­ing with this is a public body and may be crit­i­cised just like any other gov­ern­ment depart­ment. It is not there to dic­tate to the High­land peo­ple.

Given the Scot­tish gov­ern­ment’s near ob­ses­sion with the right to roam on land, it is al­most un­be­liev­able it now wishes to leg­is­late against man’s move­ment on the time­less sea.

More in­for­ma­tion can be found on Marine Scot­land’s web­site. Writ­ten rep­re­sen­ta­tion, by Au­gust 9, ei­ther by email to Marine_Con­ser­va­tion@scot­land.gsi.gov.uk or by post to: MPA Team, Area 1A South, Vic­to­ria Quay, Ed­in­burgh, EH6 6QQ.

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